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Children of COVID-19: pawns, pathfinders or partners?
  1. Victor Larcher,
  2. Joe Brierley
  1. Paediatric Bioethics Centre, University College London Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, NIHR Great Ormond Street Hospital Biomedical Research Centre, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Joe Brierley, Paediatric Bioethics, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, London WC1N3JH, UK; joe.brierley{at}gosh.nhs.uk

Abstract

Countries throughout the world are counting the health and socioeconomic costs of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the strategies necessary to contain it. Profound consequences from social isolation are beginning to emerge, and there is an urgency about charting a path to recovery, albeit to a ‘new normal’ that mitigates them. Children have not suffered as much from the direct effects of COVID-19 infection as older adults. Still, there is mounting evidence that their health and welfare are being adversely affected. Closure of schools has been a critical component of social isolation but has a far broader impact than the diminution of educational opportunities, as important as these are. Reopening of schools is therefore essential to recovery, with some countries already tentatively implementing it. Children’s interests are vital considerations in any recovery plan, but the question remains as to how to address them within the context of how society views children; should they be regarded as pawns, pathfinders or partners in this enterprise?

  • children
  • public health ethics
  • ethics

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Footnotes

  • Contributors Both composed the manuscript. VL wrote the first draft and JB added to it, edited and finalised.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement No data are available.

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